understanding homework questions

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mom77
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15 Feb 2012, 2:28 am

My fourth grader has trouble understanding questions, and directions if not entirely direct. As she gets older, it's becoming more of an issue in completing assignments. Her teacher sees it as a reading comprehension problem. Her evaluation said otherwise-she doesn't have a problem with reading comprehension but with dividing her attention between two tasks that need to be done simultaneously. Also, she doesn't grasp if a question has an implied meaning.

I'm sure many parents here have grappled with this. What works? It is preventing my otherwise very bright child from getting good grades, and is affecting her self esteem.

Any recommended reading for me?
thanks



audball
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15 Feb 2012, 11:39 am

Mom77, my DD is in 4th grade as well. Is your DD at a traditional school or being home-schooled? My DD is now being schooled at home by me and I noticed an improvement in her focus and concentration - she was often distracted by even the smallest noises and movements when in a classroom. If she lost her place in directions, she needed to start reading directions from the beginning again. Seeing her classmates writing and starting their work provoked a lot of anxiety and it became even *more* difficult to get her back on track.

Before we started working at home, I used to volunteer a lot in the classroom and I noticed her work improved considerably if I took her out of the classroom and worked with her independently. (Frankly, this supported the idea that homeschooling may work for us.) The fewer distractions she had, the faster she could work. We had her assessed with a neuropsychologist and found that she had some executive function issues - made worse by her environment. This proved accurate, since at home, she could finish homework very efficiently. I would suggest the book "Smart but Scattered.." by Dauson/Guare. This was very helpful is structuring work for my DD to establish the most success.

I wish I had suggestions for implied meaning skill improvement. Her virtual school has a "study section" and that is the only area where DD does not excel in the language arts section. We constantly "test" in this area (we have the option of choosing up to 20 questions to practice implied meaning) and still find scoring high in this area challenging. I have a feeling that implied meaning is more challenging for people on the spectrum since implied meaning in conversation is already difficult! I have tried to tell my daughter to imagine reading the passage and setting up a "play" in her head - what does she think will come first? Then next? It requires slowing down her reading (which she hates doing - she skims a lot of her reading, but because retention is high, she tends to score high on comprehension) and really putting thought into it, but *I* have to ask her the questions behind the story.

Is there someone who could help her "scaffold" this type of work at school, maybe as part of an IEP with the special education teacher? Even having social skills delve into this would be helpful.

Good luck!



mom77
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15 Feb 2012, 12:12 pm

thanks audball
you gave some great advice
She's in a traditional classroom, homeschooling isn't an option for us. You're right--she learns very well independently. She taught herself to read, and when motivated can teach herself almost anything....which makes her school performance puzzling.

Sitting in front of the teacher helps a lot, but isn't always feasible, as there are 31 kids in her class. In compound questions she forgets what the first half of the question is by the time she gets to the second half. This was observed in her evaluation. I only did a psycho-didactic evaluation so far, she is not yet diagnosed for being on the spectrum, although after doing a neuro-psych evaluation for her older sister, it was acknowledged that she (and I) most probably are as well.

You mentioned that language arts are problematic for your daughter. Same here. She becomes most anxious when asked questions like "how do you think the character felt when ....."

She's the sweetest little girl, as one neighbor puts it-"too good". One of her classmates told her this week that she's not like everyone else in the class., but that's the subject of another discussion.

It's important for me to help her with academic skills now. When she was younger her ability to be an autodidact compensated for other difficulties, but as the work becomes more complex, her challenges are becoming a real source of frustration.

I tried meeting with the school guidance counselor and psychologist, but they were not adequately versed in spectrum disorders and were not helpful.



Eureka-C
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15 Feb 2012, 12:33 pm

This looks like a pretty good starting place to learning to make better inferences.
http://thedemandingclassroom.com/tag/inferences/

This site does a good job explaining why children on the ASD have a difficult time inferring when reading and gives some more strategies to help them develop this skill.

http://readerswithautism.com/category/c ... ategories/



audball
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15 Feb 2012, 2:39 pm

Eureka-C, these are fantastic sites - thank you!

mom77, I have found that sometimes I can "trick" my DD into correctly answering inference questions if I reformat the question. It's difficult when a classroom assignment specifically pertains to a story about a subject my DD isn't that interested in, but if I ask her to think about in from a point of reference of something she is really interested in (say with a Warrior Cats character or a Tales from Ga'Hoole character - things she is *very* interested), sometimes I can get a better response. This is a little tricky because it requires having some background knowledge in your child's (hyperfocus) subjects, but I get the "oh yeah!" more often if I keep the context but change the characters a bit. It took me a long time to realize that my DD doesn't like narratives about people because people are both unpredictable and frankly, not as interesting to her :D



mom77
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16 Feb 2012, 3:32 am

great links Eureka, thanks!

@audball--this is the advantage of homeschooling your DD! Can't expect much personalized attention in a class of 31, even with the most well-meaning teacher. My daughter manages well enough to not receive special services, but when a bright child receives 70's, it's very upsetting to the child. The attitude of the school was to just consider her a mediocre student, and try to boost herself esteem in other ways.